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Archive for October, 2013

Final Cover The Stairwell

Happy Sunday, and congrats to the Boston Red Sox who are headed to the 2013 World Series! I wonder if all the games are going to go past midnight Eastern Standard Time…sheesh.

Instead of a recommendation this week, I’m glad to say my book is going through final edits and “should be” ready by the end of November. The title is The Stairwell, and the final cover is displayed above. It’s been a really fun (and really hectic) process, and I hope you’re excited to read about Meagan and Doob’s latest antics.

Please take a moment to read the Prologue below from The Stairwell. (The formatting in this blog has made the paragraphs a little odd, so bear with it. They’ll be correct when the book comes out.) I’d love your feedback and look forward to keeping you posted on its progress. Have a great day, and ’til next week, happy reading! 🙂

Friday, November 1st ~ Present Year 

Jeff Geiger felt like a kid in a candy store, and it wasn’t only because last night had been Halloween. This afternoon he was purchasing a vacation home, and he had a spring in his step as he approached the entrance to the glimmering skyscraper in downtown Boston. The John Hancock Tower was a glassed modern marvel, with its silver-blue tint reflecting the buildings all around it. His closing would be held at the law firm handling the estate of the late Ava McGraw, a woman he’d never known but with whom he would now have a common address.

Jeff entered through the revolving door of the massive building and checked in at security. The uniformed young woman squinted and studied his license thoroughly, which made him feel like he’d done something wrong when he absolutely hadn’t. She glanced up and scrutinized him, and Jeff gave her a tight smile. She looked back down at his ID and then, evidently satisfied, directed him to the turnstiles. He pushed through the metal arm of the first one he came to and made his way to the bank of elevators that would take him to the twenty-fifth floor. He smiled at the knowledge of the building’s elevators, how only certain cars went to certain floors above; efficacy was a wonderful thing.

He arrived at the plush suite of offices and checked in with the attractive receptionist. She picked up the phone, quietly announced his arrival, and seconds later, he was greeted by Jolene O’Hara, the attorney who would handle the transfer of the property. She escorted him to a large conference room, where a wall of windows showed off a spectacular view of the Boston skyline. The long mahogany table in the center of the room, polished to a beautiful sheen, held a gleaming silver tray with a glass pitcher of water and floating lemon slices, alongside four crystal tumblers. The massive table looked to seat about thirty, but today only three people were scheduled to be at the meeting.

Jolene took a seat at the far side of the table and removed assorted paperwork from her briefcase. Jeff sat across from her, appreciating that she’d given him the side of the table with the wonderful view of the city. 

While they made small talk about the warm fall weather, the Patriots, and the latest political scandal, Jeff studied Jolene. She was probably in her late-fifties and wore a white, low-cut business suit that was one size too small for her stocky frame. Jeff wasn’t an expert on women’s fashion, but he thought there was some rule about not wearing white during certain times of the year. Silver bracelets dangled from her thick wrists, and a couple of silver chains disappeared into the tunnel of her cleavage. The makeup must have taken at least an hour, and talon-like fingernails almost perfectly matched her red hair-from-a-bottle. Her gravelly voice hinted at many years of smoking, and Jeff briefly wondered how many times a day she took the long elevator ride downstairs just to light up.

He was also beginning to wonder how much longer they would have to chit-chat when Bill McGuire entered the conference room. Leave it to Bill to saunter right past the receptionist and come in unannounced. Jeff swiveled in his chair to greet his real estate agent and friend. Bill was a typical Irishman, with light red hair, freckles, and pale skin. He was over six-feet tall with a quick wit and a twinkle in his bright, blue eyes. He was the type of guy who had a smile that mothers warned their daughters about, but the daughters never listened. Eventually he won over the mothers, but never the fathers.

Bill exchanged pleasantries with Jolene and took a seat beside her, across the table from Jeff. The meeting progressed without much fanfare, and forty minutes later, Jeff Geiger owned a home in Jamestown, Rhode Island, a small community just outside of scenic Newport. After some final small talk, Jeff gathered his things to leave. Jolene momentarily looked panicked and made a not-so-subtle attempt to stall his departure. 

“So, Jeff, it’s not often we have people at such a young age paying cash for a home. That’s quite impressive.” She attempted what he assumed was meant to be a demure smile, but she just wound up looking constipated. She stood and stretched across the large table to pat Jeff’s hand. Her palm lingered there, and Jeff’s right eyebrow shot up, looking to Bill for some help. 

“It’s a second home, too,” Bill threw in, enjoying the spectacle way too much to not pile on. Jeff shot him a glare that spoke volumes, as he preferred to keep his personal life just that:  personal. Now, he had to say something.

“Uh, thank you, Jolene, it’s a great little property that has a few projects I can work on. I’m excited to get down there and get my hands dirty.” At the mention of his hands, Jeff pulled his out from under hers, leaving her half-sprawled across the massive table. He had to get out of there before they could delve any further into his second house, his age, his money, or especially his lack of a wedding ring.

After escaping Jolene and scampering out of the building, Jeff hit the sidewalk with a renewed bounce in his step. “God bless you Ava McGraw, I’ll do you proud,” Jeff whispered, looking up at the fluffy white clouds. He briefly wondered about her life and hoped she had enjoyed her many years of living on the coast of Rhode Island. He jingled the new house keys in his hands and nearly skipped down the crowded street to the parking garage.

After walking down several flights to his vintage Porsche 911, he unlocked the door, started the engine, and spiraled up the parking garage loop. Digging in his pocket for his wallet, he was careful not to bump the car against the narrow cement walls as he circled around toward the ticket-taker. The man working the booth was probably in his mid-sixties, and he wore a light blue cardigan sweater and a gray, newsboy cap. A disgusting, unlit, chewed-up cigar hung out of his mouth. He held out his hand and didn’t even look up from his newspaper to acknowledge Jeff.  Sticking the ticket in a little machine, the green neon numbers revealed what Jeff owed.

          “Forty bucks, mac,” the man said, with a heavy Boston accent.

          “Holy cow, I was only in there for about an hour.” Jeff was just messing with the guy, but he wanted to see if he could get him to glance up from the sports page. He wasn’t disappointed. The man looked up, and one corner of his mouth curled. He pointed his slimy cigar at Jeff and narrowed his eyes.

          “Listen mac, it’s highway robbery, I agree. But I don’t set the rates; I just collect ‘em. And I don’t make no commission on it, either, so don’t bust my stones. Just gimme the forty, and you’ll be on your way. Or don’t gimme the forty, and we’ll getcha towed. Makes no difference to me.”

          Jeff smiled. Only in Boston. He gave the man a fifty and told him to keep the change, which merited a small grunt and a barely audible thank you. That didn’t faze Jeff, though. Nothing was going to get to him today. It was Friday afternoon, the weather was beautiful, and he was heading to his new digs. Life was good. 

The traffic getting out of Boston was slow going but steady, a small miracle on an early Friday afternoon, and Jeff had crossed into Rhode Island in no time.  He had friends in the Midwest who could never understand how someone could zip through a portion of all six New England states in a matter of hours.

          The drive through the Ocean State was effortless and beautiful, and the gold and orange leaves on the trees lining Interstate 95 made him feel like he was driving through a Thomas Kinkade painting. He made the trip in less than two hours, another great feat for a Friday. He pulled onto his new property and proceeded down the curvy, gravel lane to his house. His land had a huge, open meadow with grass that blew with the ocean breeze. Jeff pictured the wildflowers that undoubtedly grew here in the springtime and was once again thankful for the good fortune life had sent his way.

He took a moment to admire the view of the ocean and the Newport Bridge.  Smelling the salt in the crisp fall air, he inhaled deeply and smiled. He was on cloud nine and tried to etch the moment in his brain, because everything was absolutely perfect. 

Right up until the point when he opened his front door and saw the dead body at the bottom of the stairwell.

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Good Sunday morning! I hope you’re enjoying a lovely fall day wherever your locale.

I don’t do this very much because I’m only one-third through the book, but this week I’m recommending The Last Man by Vince Flynn. I’ve read enough of his novels to know that I’m not going out on a limb by assuming it’s going to finish strong. It’s bittersweet to read this book as well, because I believe this was his last novel (or second to last) before he passed away. A truly great, young writer we lost long before his time.

Flynn’s main character in all of his stories is Mitch Rapp, a butt-kicking member of Clandestine Services for the CIA. In this book, one of the CIA’s top operatives in Afghanistan, Joe Rickman, has vanished–ostensibly kidnapped–and Rapp is disposed to Kabul to find out what went down. Upon arrival, he immediately meets resistance from local authorities, which then sadly translates to additional opposition within the U.S. government officials posted in Afghanistan. As Rapp fights his way through red tape and the odd circumstances surrounding Rickman’s disappearance, it’s clear he’s going to have to use his special set of skills to get some answers. And it promises to be fun.

Like I mentioned, I haven’t finished it yet, but I can’t wait to see how Rapp solves this one and who he takes down in the process. If you haven’t read this book, or any of Vince Flynn’s other novels, jump on the bandwagon. It’s a fun ride! ‘Til next week, happy reading. 🙂

 

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